Saturday, March 10, 2007

Time to dig up old political wisdom!

On the Libby scandal, the FT makes the only point worth making:
Mr Libby’s cavalier approach to the truth betrays an attitude that pervades the White House to this day: an arrogance of power, that pretends government officials are above the law; an expansionist notion of executive privilege that pervades this administration, from the war in Iraq to the treatment of detainees, to the recent sackings of federal prosecutors – and apparent attempts by the US Department of Justice to muzzle them before a Congressional hearing. (full article here) .
Meanwhile, in the IHT Michael Johnson reminds us of the relevancy of reading Montesquieu again - the political thinker who, although French, had greatly influenced the making of the US Constitution:
Separation of powers was a key concept in the U.S. Constitution. "The oracle who is always consulted on this subject is the celebrated Montesquieu," James Madison wrote in the Federalist Papers. He quotes Montesquieu as saying that "there can be no liberty where the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or body or magistrates." Accumulation of powers "may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny," he concluded.

NOTE:
"The Spirit of Laws," a translation of which was published in Philadelphia and corrected by Thomas Jefferson, was "the best-read book in the Colonies after the Bible," said Joyce Appleby, a specialist in American History at the University of California at Los Angeles.
UPDATE: if you have doubts that this administration has way too much unchecked power, read this:
Angry lawmakers on Friday threatened to amend the USA Patriot Act and limit the FBI's powers in the wake of a disclosure that agents had improperly obtained confidential records of people in the United States. (LATimes)


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